It was a typical Monday in the office—emails, conference calls, reports—until I answered the phone and learned about Maddie’s story. On the other end of the line, Oklahoma Center Support Leader Leslie Harris shared the story of a little girl, Maddison “Maddie” Murphy, a young singer/songwriter who dreamed of going to Nashville, guitar in tow, to share her music on the same streets where so many others have told their story through the art of songwriting.
A 5th grade student from Pioneer Elementary School in Noble, Oklahoma, Maddie was born with a heart and lung defect. Because of her condition, normal activities such as playing with her friends or even going to school are very difficult for her fragile body to handle. Maddie’s guitar and her love for songwriting have been her constant companions through many hospital and doctor visits. It is that passion and her love for country music that inspired her dream to visit Nashville.
In order to help Maddie realize her dream, high school students at Noble High School announced that she would be the recipient of the funds raised during their annual “SHOUT Week”. SHOUT Week began at Noble High School in 2010 as a way to unite the school and the Community by teaching students one of life's most valuable lessons… it is better to give than to receive. They were going to help Maddie get to Nashville!
Knowing I live in Nashville, Leslie asked for help on our end to make Maddie’s arrival in Nashville special. An email was sent to two of Southwest’s finest—Mandie Thomas and Bonnie Brown—the Dynamic Administrative Team. These girls know how to make things happen!
And, happen it did.
Upon deplaning at C19, Maddie, her Family and of course, her guitar (that flew for free) were greeted with the smiling faces of Mandie and Bonnie along with a fun “Welcome to Music City”, a hot pink Nashville t-shirt, and Southwest backpack filled with all kinds of goodies. Just looking at the pictures makes me smile—I just might ask Mandie and Bonnie to greet me someday upon my arriving in Nashville too!
Of course, a stop by gate C9—the Grand Ole Opry branded gate—was a fun photo stop for Maddie. I’m sure a visit to the show that made country music famous was on her list of things to do while in town.
Of course, our folks in OKC made her departure just as special as the arrival. Team OKC greeted Maddie with balloons—almost as bright as her smile—and even set up a performance area in the gate area for Maddie to perform for our Customers waiting on Flight #663. There was even an old cowboy hat that was thrown down in front of Maddie, just like they do it in Nashville, and she got a few tips….or as she calls it, a little spending money for her trip.
Although I don’t work on the front line, it sure was fun being a small part of making Maddie’s experience on Southwest Airlines super special. I’m glad I was in the office to answer that call Monday!
Maddie, I hope you had a fabulous time in Music City. Take that spirit and beautiful smile to the streets of Nashville and sing your heart out!
Southwest will always be here to take you (and your guitar) back to Nashville, and home to Oklahoma!